LAWYERS4CHANGE

Monday, July 25, 2016

NBA IKEJA BRANCH ELECTIONS 2016: THE TIGERS ARE PREGNANT AGAIN

It is election time again in the Nigerian Bar Association Ikeja Branch as the two year term of the incumbent Yinka Farounbi administration draws to an end in June 2016.

Ordinarily, going by the now out-dated bye-laws of the Branch, the general elections into the Executive Committee of the Branch will hold in May and not in June as is the case now under the new Uniform Bye-Laws of the Nigerian Bar Association which has now grown into one hundred and eight branches.

 

The uniform Bye-Laws which was passed in August 2015 at the Annual General Meeting of the Association during the 2015 conference imposes certain conditions on prospective voters in the coming elections.

 

Unlike in the past, when all what qualified a voter to participate in the elections was financial membership of the Branch and payment of practicing fees in the election year the eligible voter in the new dispensation would have in addition the record of attending general meetings of the Branch for no less than five times in the election year.

 

One rule in the uniform Bye-Laws which may spark controversy is section 6(3) which reads as follows “No member of the Branch shall occupy the same office for more than two (2) years (one term); and any member who has held elective offices as a Branch officer for two (2) terms shall not be eligible to contest for a Branch office until at least five (5) years his/her last term of office” This provision was a major topic for discussion at the last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Association in February at Jos, Plateau State. Robust debate on the issue was however uncharacteristically squelched by Austin Alegeh S.A.N the president, who presided over the meeting even as he expressed an unpopular preference for an interpretation of the section 6(3) accommodating a retro-active effect.

 

It is widely believed that at the April monthly meeting of Ikeja Bar popularly cognomened the ‘Tiger Bar’, the executive committee will officially declare campaigns open.

 

Another interesting aspect of this year’s election is the severe clamp on campaign modes for candidates. By virtue of Section 15(8) of the new constitution candidates are forbidden to make publications of their campaign materials and distribute same, outside the allowance of submitting them to the Electoral Committee to the Electoral Committee for broadcast.

 

Aimed obviously to curb the excessive monetization of campaigns, this new rule may adversely affect proper dissemination of the ideas, values of candidates. While the number of offices open for contest in the Ikeja Bar remains eleven, two of the traditional offices; to wit 2ND VICE-CHAIRMAN and AUDITOR have been abrogated while two new ones LEGAL ADVISER and PROVOST have been introduced.

 

Squib investigations indicate that so far, the office of the Chairman has attracted the highest number of aspirants-four; the office of the Secretary (General) only two while the other offices do not seem to attract so much competition.

 

One of the General Secretary contestants is Memunat Esegine, former Publicity Secretary of the Branch 2012-2014. She had contested the office of General Secretary before in 2014 but lost to the incumbent office holder Seyi Olawumi. A dogged and visible campaigner, she hopes for the best this time around.

 

Another aspirant to the knowledge of this magazine is Folorunso Ilori. A quiet, self-effacing personality devoid of glamour but well known in his circles as a committed and tire-less worker,

 

From all indications, in the first two week of April 2016 the office of the Secretary may attract one or two other more contestants.

 

In the Chairman category the contest promises to be interesting. The four contestants are easily categorized into two class. The first class is that of contestants who have held offices in the Tiger bar while the second class of contestants who are green horns.

 

In the first class are Adesina Ogunlana (former Welfare Officer, former General Secretary and former 1st Vice-Chairman) and Gloria Nweze (former Treasurer, former 2nd Vice-Chairman and incumbent 1st Vice-Chairman)

 

In the second class are Wale Ogunade and Bartholomew Aguegbodo.

 

Bartholomew Aguegbodo

An oak of a man, Aguegbodo was called to the Bar in January 2001 However inspite of his imposing bulk, he perhaps appears the least prominent of all the contestants.

A genial personality but a forceful speaker, Aguegbodo hopes to create upsets in the elections.

 

Wale Ogunade

Called to the Bar in May 2001, Ogunade is the youngest at the Bar of all the contestants. He is lively and extroverted. A television commentator, Ogunade sprouts populist preachments and is the founder of the VOTERS AWARE, a private organization set up to promote the ideas of holding valid and proper elections through the sensitization of the electorate. He is however seen as not being actively involved in the affairs of the Ikeja Bar yet but may turn out a force to reckon with being an early bird campaigner in the race.

 

Gloria Nweze

The only lady in the contest, Nweze, called to the Bar in 1988, is the oldest at the Bar. She has a record of service in the Bar starting from 2008, when she was appointed the Treasurer of the Branch by the Dave Ajetomobi administration. She later became the 2nd Vice-Chairman 2010-2012 and is the incumbent 1st Vice-Chairman. She and her supporters have brought a sexist angle to the contest contending that after about thirty five years in existence, it was high time a gentleman in skirt becomes the leader of the great Ikeja Bar.

 

As the incumbent the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, she has energized her committee to hold seminars and clinics on its assignment.

 

Adesina Ogunlana

The last but not the least in the race for the Chairmanship post is Adesina Ogunlana the widely respected publisher of the resilient and fiery anti-corruption legal magazine, The Squib. Certainly the best known of the contestants both at the local and national Bars, Ogunlana was called to the Bar 1996, after bagging a first degree in English studies at the University of Ife, eleven years earlier in 1985. An articulate progressive activist and politically ambidextrous, Ogunlana a former General Secretary and former 1st Vice Chairman of the Branch, is also the National Coordinator of a key organizational participant in the 2015 General Elections, the Lawyers4Change.

 

Investigations indicate that as today, Ogunlana, a main-streamer in Ikeja Bar since 2002 he is the candidate, all other contestants consider the biggest obstacle in their path of electoral success

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